You’ve probably heard of it, and you’re wondering, what does that have to do with lawyers and law firms? There’s no WAY that can be used for professional services marketing, right?
If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it’s a photo-sharing social network that is available only on your mobile device (you can access it on your desktop, but you can’t actually post to it from your desktop). I’m a photographer as well as a legal industry professional (surprise!), so I have a soft spot for Instagram.
But that’s not the only reason it’s important. The statistics tell us that this social network is NOT to be ignored.
- 300 million monthly active users
- 70% people outside of the US
- 30 billion photos shared (yes, that’s BILLION)
- 2.5 billion daily likes (again, BILLION)
- 70 million photos, on average, posted daily
Those are some compelling statistics. But, of course, they just tell us about general usage, which doesn’t mean much for businesses. But earlier this year, Sprout Social did a little bit more research into that for us. So we also know that brand engagement is higher on Instagram than on any other social media site, including Facebook and Twitter (Yes, you read that correctly). It’s a 4.21% which is 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
I’m not suggesting that firms go and de-activate their Twitter and Facebook accounts, but you DO want to pay attention to Instagram if you’re not already – it can be a great opportunity.
Before we get into my Two for Tuesdays tips, which focus more on getting noticed on Instagram, let’s look at a few ideas for how you can use it as a lawyer or law firm, in case you’re not already on Instagram:
- Take “behind-the-scenes photos at the firm – share snapshots of your colleagues and work friends with a fun fact about them (extra points for tagging them), let people see what your office looks like on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon, photograph the outside of the building or the lobby, or the break room that no one ever gets to see. Make it something fun, that feels like an “insider’s look,” so followers will feel like they’re getting to know you and the firm better.
- Photograph the firm’s charity/community events – if the firm is running in a local 5k, helping out at a food bank, or doing a telethon for a local charity, snap some photos and share them on Instagram. Tag the charity and let followers know how they can contribute, or where they can stop by to make donations.
- Share your travel – everyone travels these days, even if it’s just commuting! Share your view – take a photo from the airport, or in the city that you’re visiting. Get your followers to guess where you are this week from the skyline. Fellow road warriors will commiserate right along with you.
- Feature clients – Why not feature your clients (with their permission, of course)? Have a client doing something cool? Share it on Instagram – talk about their triumphs and new products; start a selfie goal of 25 client selfies in a year (with tags).
There are many, many more ideas, but you get the gist of it! There’s a reason that the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” exists.
Now, on to the actual Two for Tuesdays tips! This is where the “advice that you’re not taking” comes into play.
Earlier today, I was reading a post on the Content Marketing Institute by Josh Brown about marketing strategies to get noticed on Instagram, and two of these are definitely useful for law firms and lawyers, and are not being well-applied as of yet.
Tip One: Incorporate General Hashtags
While it’s generally not appropriate to use multiple hashtags when you’re sharing on Twitter or Facebook (and DEFINITELY not on Linkedin – the HORROR!), Instagram is actually fertile ground for hashtags. People post their photos, add their caption (and sometimes, even omit that), and then hashtag away with anything and everything related to the image.
The reason for this is simple – exposure. Hashtags are how you get found on Instagram.
You may already be hashtagging your photos, but the key with this tip is the idea of “general” hashtags – it’s about using broader, more popular hashtags, which are, of course, related to your image, so that you can hook into some of the exposure that those hashtags are already generating. It helps people to find and follow you, so that they can engage with you in the future.
Brown has some really great notes for you within this that you want to take into account:
Make the caption and the hashtags related. If you see success with certain hashtags, it’s going to be tempting to include them in every post. But you’ll have more success in the long run if you think ahead and create photos for those specific successful hashtags. While you’re at it, make sure you know you understand the hashtags that you’re using or you may end up on the wrong end of a scandal.
Don’t spam hashtags. Instagram users love hashtags and while it appears that there isn’t a saturation point, if you’re filling your posts up with multiple hashtags, then you’re casting your net too wide, plus it just looks like spam to viewers.
Don’t make the caption too short. Brief captions can be great, just recognize that a short caption followed by a wave of hashtags can again possibly hurt your image.”
He also points out that while you are trying to ride the wave of popularity of these general hashtags, you do want to balance that out a bit, since you don’t want to get lost in a sea of everyone else who is using that hashtag. So think critically about what you’re using to tag your posts with for that balance of exposure and visibility.
Tip Two: Communicate
Engaging with your audience is important enough that I try to mention it as much as I can, and that’s just as true on Instagram as it is with any other social media tool. Sprout Social tells us that “50% of comments are posted in the first six hours” on Instagram and 75% in the first 48 hours. Interestingly though,
[H]igh-performing posts – posts with double the average engagement – see comment volume peak later, taking more than 13 hours to hit 50 percent of total comments. High performing content on Instagram has a longer shelf life than average posts, which is why it’s important to focus on quality.”
Either way, the key here is making sure you follow up on your posts. You can’t just post a photo to Instagram and then ignore what happens afterwards. If there’s engagement, you have to connect with those people.
I’m not suggesting you thank everyone who likes your post (although if you notice that there’s a key contact on there who liked it, you may want to make an exception for that, and tag them in a comment). But if someone takes the time to comment, ask a question, or add some insight to your image, you want to reciprocate in kind. It’s how you create social capital and it will drive additional engagement in the future.
An important note that Brown makes is that:
Your comments are your personality. Make sure to pay close attention to what you’re saying, down to the last word – all your followers could read what you write, so your writing must have mass appeal to be perceived overall as positive. When you relate to your target audience members through words, they will be more likely to trust you and buy from you.”
As a lawyer or law firm professional posting to Instagram, you already know this, and presumably, you’re just being yourself on there. That statement is directed more at law firms who are using Instagram to develop a brand persona for their firm.
It seems like a stretch, but some companies are REALLY good at making their brands friendly and accessible. If you read through Brown’s entire post, you’ll see the story about Groupon’s customer engagement over their banana holders, if you haven’t yet heard that story. (And if you haven’t, I promise it’s worth a read – you’ll get a chuckle out of it).
So if you’re not already on Instagram, head on over there today and set up your account. Give a backstage pass to your followers on what goes on at your firm (within reason, of course no ethical violations, please) and add some personality and hashtags to the mix to build up a following among one of the strongest social networks out there.